.- In a letter to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Miami, intended to express solidarity with the bishops of Cuba who recently asked for prayers for the health and conversion of Fidel Castro, Archbishop John. C. Favalora has reminded Catholics of their duty to forgive and to pray for their enemies.
In the letter entitled “Should we pray for our enemies?” the archbishop noted, “Putting politics and emotion aside, the church's teaching on this matter is clear: We must pray for the well-being and enlightenment of our civic leaders, and we must pray for the salvation of the sick and dying — without exception, whether we like them or not.”
“The reason we pray for those who do not believe is so that they might be open to God's graces. Who knows? The Lord might indeed call them, as he has called so many, on their deathbed. The Lord wants everyone to be saved,” he said.
“This may seem unfair, he continued, “but we know from the teachings of Jesus that God's ways are not our ways. Our justice is not God's justice. God's justice is tempered with mercy and compassion, while all too often our human justice is mingled with our inability to let go and be healed of oppressive memories, or even at times our desire to seek revenge and retribution.”
“If we are to call ourselves Christians,” the archbishop underscored, “we cannot pick and choose which teachings of the church we will follow or which way of the Lord we will emulate.”
He noted that in the “Eucharistic prayer at Mass, we pray daily at the consecration of the Precious Blood: ‘It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven.’ That is why the church of the Eucharist must be an agent of reconciliation in the midst of conflicts and division.”
Recalling that Christ himself asks us “to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us,” Archbishop Favalora emphasized that despite the difficulties in putting this commandment into practice, “that is what is expected of Christians.”
“I pray every day for the liberation and salvation of all the people in Cuba, without excluding anyone, and I make no apologies for that,” he said. “I also make no apologies for saluting the bishops of Cuba, who have spent years patiently evangelizing their people in the midst of extremely difficult circumstances. They have been prophetic pastors in the face of serious political difficulties. I don't know how many of us in this country would be able to do what they have done.”
In conclusion, the archbishop said, “I can unequivocally state that the church in Miami stands in communion and complete solidarity with the bishops of Cuba, not only at this moment of uncertainty but in all of their pastoral endeavors to carry out their apostolic office.”